August 6, 2003


Concert Telecast Memorializes Verdi's Towering Requiem Performed As World War II Concentration Camp Protest

DEFIANT REQUIEM Airs On PBS August 27th, 2003 8 p.m.

DEFIANT REQUIEM is a concert performance carried out in a most unusual way. The Oregon Symphony and Portland Opera Chorus re-create the circumstances of the performance of Verdi's "Requiem" as it was sung by prisoners in the Nazi concentration camp at Terezin. "I must tell the story of an unsung hero, Raphael Schächter, who was a passionate conductor, a risk taker and a man motivated by music to serve humanity," stated Murry Sidlin, then Resident Conductor for the Oregon Symphony, who conceived, wrote and conducted the performance.

Recorded in High-Definition Television at its world premiere in Portland, Oregon in April 2002, the program tells the story of Schächter and these brave musicians through dramatic reenactments, archival film, interviews with camp survivors and Verdi's remarkable words and music. DEFIANT REQUIEM airs on PBS Wednesday, August 27th at 8:00 p.m. (check local listings) and is a production of Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Oregon Symphony in association with Brandenburg Productions.

Sidlin's research revealed the account of Jewish prisoners under Schächter's leadership who sang of liberation and the judgment of evil before audiences of fellow prisoners and Nazi officers. Utilizing a first person resource, Sidlin quotes Edgar Krasa, a cellmate of Schächter at Terizen on the inspiration for DEFIANT REQUIEM: "Rafi told us many times that we can sing things to the Nazis that we can't say."

Departing from the traditional concert-hall setting, DEFIANT REQUIEM was staged in a setting suggestive of the stark camp conditions. Sidlin chose to alternate between full orchestral performance and solo piano accompanying the chorus to heighten the experience. Camp survivor and chorus member Marianka Zadikow-May, her videotape image projected on a large screen recalled, "It's very difficult to sing when you're hungry; it's very difficult to concentrate."

Soloists in the performance include soprano Lisa Willson, tenor Philip Webb, mezzo-soprano Eleni Matos and bass baritone Gary Relyea. Also appearing in the broadcast with camp survivors Krasa and Zadikow-May is Eva Rocek, another singer in Schächter's chorus. Murray Horwitz and William Friedkin served as creative consultants to the production. The television director is Phillip Byrd.

Production funding for the PBS national broadcast of DEFIANT REQUIEM was provided by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Public Television Viewers.

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) is one of the major providers of programs for the PBS national primetime schedule. OPB produces a variety of freestanding documentary specials and series, as well as specials for FRONTLINE, NOVA and THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. OPB has an established reputation for penetrating investigative reporting on a wide range of issues in society and the natural world, and specializes in such genres as critical events and contemporary history, business/technology, travel and exploration and science.

The 2002-2003 season marks the 107th season of the Oregon Symphony. Founded as the Portland Symphony in 1896 and renamed the Oregon Symphony in 1967, it has grown to be one of the largest arts organizations in the Pacific Northwest and a leading orchestra in the nation. It has been ranked "first-class" by Gramophone and a "virtuoso ensemble" by the Washington Post. This season also marks James Depreist's final season as Music Director and Conductor concluding a 22-year tenure. Under his leadership the Symphony has increased its levels of concert activity, garnered a national reputation for high quality, and a greater level of service in the areas of education and community service.

Brandenburg Productions, established in 1985 has been responsible for dozens of music and arts programs for public television. Producer/Director Phillip Byrd and Associate Director/Editor Janet Shapiro represent a consolidation of more than 40 years of television, music and recording industry expertise.

Press Contacts:

Selena Lauterer
Oregon Public Broadcasting

Nimmi Singh
Oregon Public Broadcasting
503-244-9900, ext 2096

# # #
« Current News | 2006-2007 | 2005-2006
2004-2005 | 2003-2004 | 2002-2003 | 2001-2002 »